On a case-by-case basis, some media outlets withheld the publication of secret diplomatic cables provided to them by whistle—blower website WikiLeaks, the State Department has said.
At the same time, it conceded that some other media outlets could publish these cables, so the U.S. puts the onus of these unauthorised leaks on Julian Assange, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks.
“On a case—by—case basis, some outlets have withheld posting of cables at our request. Obviously, it’s a complicated situation because one outlet may withhold a cable then only to see another outlet release it,” State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley told reporters on Friday.
“That’s the primary reason why we put the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Assange. Based on the actions that he’s taken, there is, in all likelihood, no systematic way of protecting people who are listed in these cables and who we believe are now at greater risk. That’s why we called on him over the weekend to withhold the documents and to return them to us, and he’s failed to do that,” he said.
Unfortunately, Mr. Crowley said, it is the news organisations that determine the redactions. “We have made a range of requests. In some cases, news organisations have responded to us. In some cases, they have not. As we’ve made clear, we do believe that in the release of these cables lives are being put at risk,” he said.
“We do believe that critical military and intelligence operations are being put at risk. We do think that our national interests are put at risk because of what’s being done here. We’ve made that clear to — in any conversation that we’ve had with any news organisation,” Mr. Crowley said.
No one in the United States Government with a brain in his head wanted to see this happen. “Unfortunately, as we’ve made clear, at least one person in the United States Government is responsible for this. This was not done by policy,” he said.
The publication of classified information is harmful to the national interest, Mr. Crowley said. “We’ve made that clear.
But your counterparts in news organisations have a different point of view,” he added.
The State Department spokesman said that he is not aware that the U.S. government is in touch with the internet host.
“I mean what we are doing is we are tracking where these documents are emerging from, just to keep track of what is being released and, as we have been doing for some time, trying to assess impact. So we are monitoring where documents are emerging from. But at this point, I’m not aware that we’ve had any conversations,” he said.